Become a Social Network Ninja with HootSuite

The twitterverse is getting more massive by the day. Of late, Twitter has become a hot bed of everything real-time on the web. The downside is, there’s too much data, too many conversations and too many people to keep track of from a Twitter account’s home page.

Most of us need an app to streamline and present the conversations in a manner that makes sense. There are a number of apps for desktop and otherwise that claim to address this issue. One among them is HootSuite.

HootSuite has a ton of strong suits; being a web app that does not need a plugin or Adobe Air to function makes it more attractive. HootSuite also helps you to keep track of conversations across major social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Ping.fm, WordPress and Foursquare from a single web page.

Let’s take peek at some of the mind blowing features of this free web app.

Sign Up

HootSuite offers a simple and straightforward two step sign up form. Enter your email address and password, select the time zone and you are off to the second step.

Sign Up

Sign Up

In the second step, you’ll enter the login credentials of your social networks. In the case of Facebook,  it’s even more simple as Hootsuite uses Facebook connect to login.

Add Social Networks

Add Social Networks

Interface and Stream Organization

Once logged in, a simple and intuitive user interface with tabs and columns welcomes you. HootSuite empowers us to streamline the Twitter stream by using columns and tabs. Tabs help at a macro level and can be used to segregate between work and personal accounts. For example, enter the login credentials of the Twitter account and HootSuite will create a tab for the account with its Twitter stream. Tweets of all the people you follow are displayed right from the first tweet.

Interface

Interface

Columns

Columns can be used to group and organize your streams at a micro level.  You can keep track of the sent tweets, DMs, mentions, keyword searches and so on by using individual columns for each one.

Add Column

Add Column

If you prefer to keep an eye on the tweets that you have sent without any noise, a column can be created to do just that. Adding columns is as easy as hitting the Add Column plus sign.

Use the drop down list to choose from the multitude of options and voila, a column for tracking your sent tweets is created.

Column Selection

Column Selection

Similarly, a column can also be created to keep track of a particular keyword/topic that might interest you. Just select Keyword Tracking from the Add Column window, enter the keyword and a column is created right in front of you to dynamically track tweets on that particular topic.

Keyword Column

Keyword Column

Columns can also be created for tracking mentions about your Twitter ID, direct messages, pending tweets and your favorite tweets.

Columns from Mentions and Favorites

Columns from Mentions and Favorites

Want the columns to be in a particular order? Just drag and drop them one after another. It’s as simple as that.

Column Order

Column Order

You can add as many columns as you want in a tab. All columns within a tab can be accessed by scrolling to the right.

Tabs

Columns are great, however, there won’t be much space left on the screen for some of us with a wide social circle (read Twitter junkies). Even when scrolling left and right, we might end up exhausted and confused. That’s where the amazing tabs come in. Tabs help us to put the columns we have created in perspective. For example, we can have a tab exclusively for friends and family. You can create a tab to group all the baseball players and teams that are tweeting. The possibilities are limitless.

Tabs

Tabs

Tabs are extremely customizable too; you can rename the tabs any way you please.

Customize Tabs

Customize Tabs

Do you want to track the stream in real-time or set a time delay between refreshes?  The Twitter stream refresh interval can also be set by you. Refresh interval settings can be changed from the Edit Tab option.

Stream Update Interval

Stream Update Interval

Hootsuite lets you to set different tab refresh intervals. That way you can have a baseball tab that refreshes every five minutes and a news tab that refreshes every thirty minutes.

Adding New Social Media Accounts

After logging in, a new social media account can be created using the Settings button at the bottom left corner of the web app.

Settings

Settings

Select the Social Networks tab from the settings page.

Select Social Networks

Select Social Networks

Use the Add Social Network button to add  a new Twitter, Facebook or Myspace account. WordPress and Foursquare are also supported, but those options are in beta testing.

Features and More Features

HootSuite is like a bottomless pit when it comes to features.

Multiple Tweets and Status Messages

You can send the same tweet or message across a multitude of social network accounts. Just select the accounts and then click the Send it button. It can’t get easier than this.

Select Social Networks

Select Social Networks

Shrinking and Statistics

Hootsuite has its own URL shortening service. Long weblinks can be shortened using the Shrink it button.

Short URLs

Short URLs

Want know how popular your tweets are?  HootSuite has a comprehensive statistics page that keeps track of the ow.ly links you have tweeted.

Stats Tracking

Stats Tracking

Scheduling Tweets and Status Updates

Want to tweet while you’re sleeping? With HootSuite, nothing is impossible. Type in the tweet and then click on the schedule button.

Tweet Scheduling

Tweet Scheduling

Select the date and time on which the tweet should be published and Hootsuite will do it for you. Tweets can also be saved as drafts and can be used at a later time.

Save Tweets

Save Tweets

Embedding a Twitter Stream in Your Blog/Site

To liven up your blog or website with the topics you follow, HootSuite provides embeddable code. Click on the Create Embed code option from the column, select the size of the widget and the refresh interval and off you go with the code.

Embed Column

Embed Column

The widget can also be created with a custom background to suit your blog’s color theme.

Custom Widget Colors

Custom Widget Colors

Once the code is embedded, your work is done. HootSuite will update the stream automatically in real-time.

Final Words

HootSuite is a clear winner when compared to all the other web apps that handle multiple social networks. For companies or organizations with more than one person contributing, HootSuite also has a control panel that can assign multiple roles to approved users.

Followers can be managed, lists can be accessed and files can be uploaded. Even with all these features, HootSuite does not hog memory or computing resources. It is amazing how light weight the web app is. In addition to its fantabulous web app, HootSuite also has powerful apps, free and paid, for iPhone and Android platforms. I am giving a 9/10 to this cool owl for its wholesome awesomeness.

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Summary

"HootSuite is the professional Twitter client. With HootSuite, you can manage multiple Twitter profiles, pre-schedule tweets, and measure your success."

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